As shared from the DCHS Touching Base Newsletter
Did you know? In addition to helping veterans, military personnel and their families with financial assistance, employment, housing, counseling and other supports, the King County Veterans Program (KCVP) also helps pay for burial costs of veterans who die indigent.
Last year, KCVP was asked by KCPQ 13 to be a part of a story with Seattle’s Columbia Funeral Home about honoring our nation’s heroes both in life and in death.
The story aired in May of 2016 and highlighted KCVP’s role in helping fund services for the burial of indigent deceased veterans. Over the last five years, the KCVP Burial Assistance Program has worked with over 20 funeral homes to assist in over 150 burial/cremations of indigent veterans. The story caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which ran a follow-up piece in January 2017: The Man Who Restores Veterans’ Lost Dignity.
The WSJ story centers on Columbia Funeral Home mortician James Lindley, a disabled Marine veteran who is coping with PTSD by ensuring that the unclaimed remains of indigent deceased veterans are receiving burials/cremations with dignity. As the story explains, James has found therapeutic value in his role as a navigator/mortician of indigent (and often unclaimed) veterans remains in King County. WSJ interviewed KCVP, which shared insight on the significance of honoring a burial assistance program and bringing dignity to these indigent veterans at the end of their lives.
The Wall Street Journal story covered the burial ceremony of four veterans as their unclaimed remains were laid to rest at Tahoma National Cemetery on Sept. 30, 2016. Four urns, each entombing the remains of a veteran from a different branch of the military (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force) were transported from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office to Tahoma. As a symbol of honor, the branch of each deceased veteran was represented by a color guard, a flag folding protocol, and the firing of three volleys from honor guard rifles. Both KCVP and the King County Medical Examiner’s office received flags on behalf of the deceased veterans and the ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps. KCVP has encased the flag in a shadow box for display “in honor and memory” in their lobby at their Renton office.
To learn more about what DCHS is doing in our community, read the most recent issue of the Touching Base Newsletter(on SharePoint).